Monday, September 3, 2012
Lawless, while not groundbreaking in anyway, is a lot of fun to watch
If you're expecting a masterpiece or a serious piece of filmmaking, you're going to be disappointed by Lawless. With director John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) and actors like Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia Labeouf, and Gary Oldman, some people may expect a serious film looking to grab some Oscars especially with its prohibition setting. What we get instead though is a film that's more interested in being entertaining than anything else. And you know what? It works.
John Hillcoat is a solid director but this is probably his most accessible work. Lawless is a story about the Bondurant brothers (Hardy, Labeouf, Jason Clarke) who, during the prohibition era, get into the dangerous bootlegging business. Their initial success is thwarted by Special Agent Rakes (Guy Pearce), who's both foppish and borderline psychotic. Rakes is looking to crack down on the bootlegging business in Franklin County which means being a rock in the shoe for the Bondurants.
You can tell Guy Pearce really had fun sinking his teeth into this character. He goes all in. Does he border on overacting at times? Maybe, but I find his performance to be very watchable and entertaining. Shia Labeouf does a serviceable job as well, at the very least, he was cast in the right role. He plays wide-eyed innocent, naive pretty well. Tom Hardy is more than solid as usual as the badass of the Bondurant brothers while Jason Clarke who is perhaps the most unpredictable of the brothers also gives a spirited performance.
This movie is good, fun entertainment but what keeps it from being forgettable is the fact that the actors involved really seemed to enjoy playing these characters. While the story is unique in that it's based on a true story, it kinda goes through very familiar motions. There's nothing about the film's story that's particularly surprising but that doesn't mean it can't be fun or, at times, thrilling to watch. One complaint I do have is that they got a talented actor in Gary Oldman and he's only in a handful of scenes. Criminally underused.
Overall though, Lawless is a good time. We'll see by the end of the year if it really matches up with the best of 2012. As is it though, I definitely had more fun watching this than a lot of other films I've seen this year.